Slice of Life Story Challenge-Day 7 -Hats Off To Earl
I never saw the top of Earl’s head. Not once. Not once in all the time I knew him. Earl always wore a hat, so I’m not sure what was under it. He could have been as bald as an egg. He could have had a mop of curls or a few motley strands used as a comb over. Who knows? -Certainly not me. Because Earl’s hat and body were inseparable. That hat, a battered brown Akubra was seemingly glued to the top of his head. Seemingly glued to his head, that hat was sculpted by dirt, sweat and years.
One summer, as a sixteen year old, I worked with Earl. We both laboured for the Sands Family on their farm. Earl was only ever referred to as Earl. I never knew his last name. My job was too thin out carrot and parsnip seedlings to allow only the stronger plants to grow and develop. I spent the best part of each day crawling on my knees along rows of tiny plants using my thumbs to thin out the plants to a spacing of about 8 cm. so they had room to expand. Earl worked there too. For years I had watched Earl pass our family house on his way to some unknown destination in his huge rust dominated car –an ancient Ford sedan. His hat always jammed on his head. The mystery of Earl’s dome was never uncovered. Cowboys often died with their boots on. Maybe Earl died with his hat on…
*This piece was inspired by the sight of a man on the television yesterday wearing a weather beaten old hat while rounding up cattle in
remote outback. This visual triggered a connection that came echoing from my
childhood. Hat, hat, hat –Earl! Wow, the power of a simple visual cue! Australia